By Given Mutinta
In a society with selfless and sober politicians, recycled and old politicians are of immense value and are regarded as political assets.
In Zambia, this is far from being true. Instead, recycled and old politicians are like ghosts haunting, and parasites sucking governments.
For many years we have been governed by greedy politicians recycled from one ruling party to the other.
Most of the active politicians are those who started with the United National Independence Party (UNIP). Then they joined the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) and they are now with the Patriotic Front (PF) waiting to join any party that will form the next government.
Recycled politicians are a menace to the nation. They are suffocating good governance and the growth of democracy.
Take as an example the many times President Michael Sata has been recycled. He first worked with the colonial masters. Then he joined UNIP and later MMD and eventually formed his own party.
The problem with old and tired politicians is that they perceive reality from a mid-twentieth century lens resulting in old-fashioned solutions to twenty first century challenges.
How can a person for instance, explain the current suppression of divergent voices as in the days of the one party state dictatorship of Kaunda?
Currently, the police are shamelessly harassing opposition leaders and arresting them with no due procedure. The obsolete and draconian law, the Public Order Act is being employed with so much force such that level-headed citizens are now baffled as to why in the first place we rejected Kaunda’s one part state dictatorship.
This is a mind opener that we need to start rejecting recycled politicians. For how long are we going to allow nomadic politicians to lead us?
Recycled politicians’ wicked old habits refuse to die even when they are recycled to other parties. They are like a destructive baboon that jumps from one mango tree to the other. It remains the same destructive baboon and the only difference is that this baboon is destructively feeding from a different mango tree.
Most of the recycled and nomadic politicians are there only to satisfy their needs and not representing their constituents. That is the reason politicians like Stephen Masumba, Gabriel Namulambe and Howard Sikwela find it easy to dump their electorate to join the ruling party.
As a society we seem to have an erroneous understanding of politics coupled with unprincipled politicians. We think that to be a politician one has to be in the ruling party. This is nonsense!
Principled politicians even when their government has been voted out of power remain with their party. It is not involvement through the ruling party or being a recycled minister or deputy minister that defines active politics. It is rather the activities one engages in as a politician.
Opposition politicians can still be active by questioning government and holding it accountable to the public. They can actively serve people by representing an alternative government and challenging government policies.
Therefore, politicians who want to serve the public only through the ruling party are misguided with self-seeking agendas.
They are politicians faking their political ideologies or with no political belief systems altogether. How can a person who genuinely subscribes to democratic sets of basic beliefs about the political, economic and social affairs cross to a party that believes in autocratic political ideologies and be at home?
In countries like America it is unheard of conservatives or liberals crossing floors. Why? It is because the conservative political ideology represented by the Republican party and the liberal political ideology represented by the Democratic party are two different political philosophies or ways of life. Therefore, one cannot assent to both unless he or she is a counterfeit politician with a selfish agenda!
We need constitutional changes to end this phenomenon of nomadic and recycled politicians.
By allowing politicians to be recycled from one party to the other we are hindering new faces and young people with bouncy intellectual vigour and vision from playing important roles in the nation’s politics and development.
This will leave young people ill prepared for the task of leading the country when, inescapably, the recycled politicians are no more.
Today we find ourselves stuck with leaders who have been recycled since independence because of the failure of the same nomadic politicians to prepare younger faces for civic duties.
We cannot continue with the tendency of recycling political figures at the exclusion of new, younger faces. Zambia cannot continue on this path of ageism in politics.
It is sad that the young, polished and vibrant who supposed to be active in sharing their expertise on development and politics end up sharing their ideas on blog posts, university corridors, and bars between sips of mosi or castle lager.
This is because recycled politicians are holding on to positions that can enable young people to share their proficiency to benefit the nation.
We need planned steps to include new and younger faces in the empowering politics of determining Zambia’s future. This can be a reality if young people consciously get fed up with recycled politicians.
For how long shall we remain victims of recycled politicians and their sucking parasites?
It is these same recycled politicians who make presidents and their governments unpopular. They are selfish and corrupt.
If today some Zambia Wildlife Authority (ZAWA) young professionals are fired without any substantial reason, just know that behind the scenes, there is recycled politician calling the shots.
If people are being arrested on trumped up charges for issuing statements with the potential to cause the breach of peace or alarm the nation, just know that recycled politicians are at work.
It is unarguable that politics in Zambia pivot on the recycled politicians and prostitute politics because there are a few political virgins.
As a result, recycled politicians will continue to haunt the political scene as long as there are no new and young faces in active politics.
There is also no way recycled politicians can retire or decline office appointments if political virgins do not come to the political scene.
Should government come to a halt because there are only recycled politicians available? The answer is No!
Therefore, new and young politicians should rise up and diligently and sedulously pursue political leadership if recycled politicians are to be sent to ret